Jesus Saw Saw Satan Fall Like Lightning… and So Can We
Did God do all the killing and destroying in the Old Testament, as those passages, by the dead letter, seem to say? Or, has Satan always, in fact, been the malevolent oppressor, tempter, accuser and destroyer of men, as the New Testament Scriptures appear to say?
Satan is largely missing in the black and white “literal” reading of the Old Testament, whereas he is fully and frequently exposed in the New Testament. But, this begs the question: was Satan still there lurking behind and between the literal words and events in the Old Testament?
When the Old Testament repeatedly says in Deuteronomy 28 that “The Lord delights” to “send marvelous plagues” and other “curses” to “destroy us and our children” whenever we “disobey Him,” are we to take that literally? Or, rather, are we to understand that the ancient writers did not yet fully comprehend the sinister motives and afflictive acts of Satan? Did their hyper-sovereign view of God result in a spiritual blind-spot where they considered BOTH good and evil to come from God’s direct hand?
And, if the answer is “yes” to the existence of this corporate blind-spot, then how should WE “now” adjust our understanding of these Old Testament passages which seem to attribute homicidal, genocidal, and infanticidal acts directly to God, acts which the New Testament seems to solely attribute to Satan?
To fairly consider this, we should examine how subsequent Jewish generations evolved and expanded the concept of Satan in their Midrashic understandings and Talmudic commentaries on the Old Testament.
In the Jewish Talmud, Midrash, and Dead Sea Scrolls, Satan is portrayed as being intimately involved in luring and misleading the Old Testament saints into destructive attitudes and situations. Even though Satan was not explicitly mentioned in the textual lives of these Old Testament saints, these later Jewish writers nonetheless perceived Satan throughout the subtext of their Scriptures.
In their later Talmudic, Dead Sea Scrolls, and Midrashic writings, they often flushed Satan out of the shadows into the open. They saw that Satan was always there imbedded in the Old Testament texts attempting to tempt, corrupt, and even destroy Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Moses and others.
Satan is the one who lures Noah into drunkenness (Tanh. Noah 13). Satan provoked the Golden Calf incident (Shab. 89a). Satan lured David into a confrontation with Ishi-benob, the brother of Goliath (Sanh. 45a). These Jewish writings portray Satan as the Death Angel of the Old Testament (B.B. 16a). They also cast him as the Angel of Temptation, Prosecution and Destruction running “sting operations” to destroy men as he did in the book of Job.
In Jubilees 17:16, concerning Abraham’s offering of Isaac, the document actually attributes the initiative to kill Isaac to “Prince Mastema,” a well-known name for Satan in Jewish lore.
Several Jewish “Sages even speak in the plural of Satanim, as if ‘adversaries’ were a class of destructive angels….” THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JEWISH MYTH, MAGIC AND MYSTICISM, Satan entry, by Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis, Llewellyn Publications (2007).
This should give us pause.
Here is why.
If even the later Jewish scholars and writers of the Talmud, Midrash and the Dead Sea Scrolls, ALL believed that Satan lurked within the subtext of Old Testament Scripture, then so certainly should we. They had a better differentiated view of the works of God versus the works of Satan. However, they didn’t go quite far enough, for they STILL considered Satan an obedient servant angel who operated under the direct commands of God. Satan just did God’s “dirty work” under their view. Satan was God’s left hand of wrath, his angry voice so to speak.
But, Jesus corrected THIS fatal misconception. Jesus NEVER authenticated Satan as serving His Abba in ANY way, shape or form. Jesus cast Satan down and out from Heavenly belonging as the “murderer” and “father of lies” from “the beginning,” the one whose “lusts” we “commit” when we sin, sins that are “of him” (Satan). Satan is the one to whom Jesus thrice referred to as the rebellious “ruler (archon) of this world.”
So, Jesus took the evolving Jewish understanding the final step by revealing Satan as a cosmic rebel totally acting “off the grid” of divine approval or cooperation. Jesus demanded the exegetical re-insertion of Satan into the Old Testament narrative. Until and unless we do this, His Abba will wrongfully be blamed for acts which are unworthy of Him.
Satan is not God’s angry voice. Jesus is God’s only voice. And that voice has NO cruelty, deception, destruction, oppression, coercion, hostility or hypocrisy. That voice is Jesus.
Jesus saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven…
Or, put another way, Jesus saw the attributes of Satan drop away from our heavenly image of God.
When His 70 joyful disciples returned after having healed and blessed so many as they declared the kingdom of Heaven was now here, the people saw…for the first time…the pure…the unadulterated…the Satan-free…image of the Heavenly Abba.
The people SAW.
They saw a love divine without condition, reservation or limit.
They saw God as a rescuing healer, not a cruel afflicter.
They saw God as a subject of our awe, not our terror.
They saw Satan was the Old Testament oppressor, not Abba. Abba was richly in the Old Testament, but only as the Father of light, love and all blessing, in whom there is no darkness, variableness, or shadow of turning.
Jesus knew that wondrous day that Satan’s nature had been completely severed and separated from Abba’s nature. Satan’s attributes of wrath, cruelty, vengeance, oppression, and condemnation had forever been cut, culled away and discarded as heavenly virtues.
Satan fell from Heaven’s image that day. And he is still falling…
Below are a series of articles that will further “cull out” all Satanic elements out and away from our image of God.
1) Satan: Old Testament Servant Angel or New Testament Cosmic Rebel
2) Did the Jews Believe Satan was Real?
3) Why couldn’t Old Testament Saints Handle the Truth about Satan?
4) If Satan has Already Been Defeated by Jesus, why is Spiritual Warfare Still Going on?
5) Are Lucifer and Satan the same Person?
6) Does the Holy Spirit Just Stand There and Let the Devil do His thing?
7) Is the Thief of John 10:10 Talking About Satan?